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Cuomo needs to clean up his own mess

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You have probably seen the ad by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the TV promoting his agenda to clean up New York government corruption.

I have a hard time keeping my lunch down each time I see the ad.

Maybe a good place for Cuomo to start would be to actually finish a three-year-old ethics investigation he started as attorney general of former Cape Vincent town officials’ conflicts of interest with wind developers, officials who appeared to violate the state’s ethics codes.

However, this investigation, to be thorough, would have had to include Cuomo’s current agricultural commissioner, former New York Sen. Aubertine, who has held British Petroleum wind leases in Cape Vincent since about 2005. Aubertine as New York assemblyman even wrote a letter encouraging Cape Vincent officials voting on wind issues despite their conflicts of interest.

In 2010, after series of communications with Cuomo’s office, I along with others had a meeting with some of Cuomo’s top staff about the Cape Vincent issue. This meeting resulted in Cuomo’s investigation of former Cape Vincent town officials.

However, when Cuomo became governor and appointed Aubertine as agricultural commissioner, knowing full well Aubertine’s Cape Vincent ties to wind developer BP, suddenly that investigation magically vanished. Cuomo has known since 2007 about the Cape Vincent ethical mess. But when I addressed the Aubertine/Cape Vincent connection in our meeting, Cuomo’s officials looked at the floor.

Now Cape Vincent is in the State Article 10 process to site BP’s wind farm, which is overseen by the N.Y. Public Service Commission. Cuomo reappointed NYPSC Commissioner Maureen Harris. Her husband, just happens to be the attorney representing BP in the Article 10 process with their Cape Vincent Wind Farm. Did Cuomo not carefully vet this commissioner before re-appointing her?

attorney John Harris, will represent BP and its wind leases in Cape Vincent, which will include the leases of Cuomo’s Commissioner Aubertine and someone Cuomo should probably have been investigating.

The NYPSC says no problem since NYPSC Commissioner Harris has no direct connection to the BP wind farm-siting process.

However, Cuomo’s NYAG office gave out opinions that officials should avoid “even the appearance of a conflict” to ensure public trust.

Gov. Cuomo should clean up his own mess before he struts around New York claiming he will clean up corruption.

Voters should keep this in mind when election time rolls around.

Art Pundt

Cape Vincent

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